Context

Historically, methods of monitoring training loads in runners have used simple and convenient metrics, including the duration or distance run. Changes in these values are assessed on a week-to-week basis to induce training adaptations and manage injury risk. To date, whether different measures of external loads, including biomechanical measures, provide better information regarding week-to-week changes in external loads experienced by a runner is unclear. In addition, the importance of combining internal-load measures, such as session rating of perceived exertion (sRPE), with different external-load measures to monitor week-to-week changes in training load in runners is unknown.

Objective

To compare week-to-week changes in the training loads of recreational runners using different quantification methods.

Design

Case series.

Setting

Community based.

Patients or Other Participants

Recreational runners in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Main Outcome Measure(s)

Week-to-week changes in running time, steps, and cumulative shock, in addition to the product of each of these variables and the corresponding sRPE scores for each run.

Results

Sixty-eight participants were included in the final analysis. Differences were present in week-to-week changes for running time compared with timeRPE (d = 0.24), stepsRPE (d = 0.24), and shockRPE (d = 0.31). The differences between week-to-week changes in running time and cumulative shock were also significant at the overall group level (d = 0.10).

Conclusions

We found that the use of an internal training-load measure (sRPE) in combination with external load (training duration) provided a more individualized estimate of week-to-week changes in overall training stress. A better estimation of training stress has significant implications for monitoring training adaptations, resulting performance, and possibly injury risk reduction. We therefore recommend the regular use of sRPE and training duration to monitor training load in runners. The use of cumulative shock as a measure of external load in some runners may also be more valid than duration alone.

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